Yichang

Trip Start Sep 05, 2005
1
41
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Trip End Ongoing


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Saturday, October 15, 2005

What a night! My initial joy at getting a bed was shortlived. At 5am I received a rude awakening from the conductor informing me this was my stop. Err....no it isn't! Cue 2 hours of trying to explain that it wasn't my ticket and there was no way I was paying the excess charge again.

Finally found an English speaker and got it rectified.I was told to go back to sleep which I found weird as I assumed we should have already arrived. The LP had suggested the train would take 12 hours. It took 16 and we pulled in shortly after 10am.

The hotel next door was the only place with dorm beds so we headed there and secured 2 beds. A guy called Wolt (pronounced Vald) had just checked in from the same train and we were all planning to do the same thing so joined forces.

We were only planning to stay in Yichang for 1 day so we made the short walk to the dock, or so the LP said. Another out-of-scale map and an hour later we arrived at the docks. We were planning to do a river cruise up the Yangtze along the three gorges but couldn't be assed to spend 3 days on a boat so opted for the 1 day blitz on the hydrofoil. Also worked out 200 yuan cheaper and only took 11 hours.

Tickets secured we set off to do the only thing in this city. I say city but looking at the LP map it looks like a small fishing village. It wasn't until I was on the train yesterday that I noticed 4 million people live there!

The 3 gorges are under threat due to a controversial dam that is being built in Yichang. By 2007 they should be submerged but provide hydro-electric power for 10% of the country. To get to the dam we had to take 2 local buses. The first was a standing job all the way and we had no idea where to get off. LP said something about the #8 terminus and we guessed right when we arrived at a round-a-bout with a few #8's. From there it was a short bus trip followed by an even shorter cab ride.

Once there we had to get our tickets. Wolt produced a student card (even though he was 30 and not a student) and got in for student fare. We got in for student fare as well even though we had no student cards! Bonus!

The next few hours were spent in a tour group (which I hate) thankfully without flags and matching baseball caps. We did have a guide who only spoke in Chinese though, which was useful.

The dam was pretty impressive but they had the usual tourist group crap including a garden devoted to the closing of the river which featured rather comically a Disneyland style golf cart you could pay extra to drive around, a basketball exhibition and cheerleaders! It wasn't too bad though and only cost about 2 quid for 4 hours.

After visiting the dam I couldn't believe the smog on returning to the city! It was so thick that you could actually taste it! We were starving so went in search of some food. We ate at a pretty damn expensive restaurant but the food was exquisite. By far the best dinner in China and well worth paying double what we normally spend.

We felt like having a couple of drinks so went looking for the place in the LP. As usual it was impossible to locate as the map was so useless. We went in a small local place instead and spent a few hours teaching a very enthusiastic local girl some English. She also helped us out by informing us we would need to leave at 6am in order to meet our boat!
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